THE APPOINTMENT of a new £125k Assistant Chief Executive at Thurrock Council was “blocked” by Labour councillors who were outraged at being “held to ransom” by the Interim Chief Executive.
Last year, council agreed that the leader, Cllr Garry Hague should make arrangements to appoint a Chief Executive. In discussions with Interim Chief Executive Bob Coomber, the Tory boss went further. Three weeks ago, an advert appeared in local government publications for two further appointment: Director of Finance and Corporate Governance and, more controversially, Assistant Chief Executive Change and Improvement.
Labour leader John Kent implored the Tories that they should not create a set up that a new Chief Executive may disagree with, dismantle and incur further costs to a cash-strapped council.
He said: “Appoint a Chief Executive first, give them a blank canvas and then make the appointments. Let them build their team.”
In a robust defence, Garry Hague stated that the appointments were value for money and part of the improvement strategy that had been recognised as working by outside agencies.
It was when Interim Chief Executive Bob Coomber went further, that the trouble started.
He said: “These jobs have already been advertised. Senior executives have applied. If they were to be withdrawn, we will struggle to appoint a new Chief Executive and a year’s work will be ruined. It is a fact!
“The word will get round that we don’t know what we are doing. The damage will be huge.”
Labour’s Deputy Leader Val Morris-Cook was inflamed. She said: “We will not be held to ransom by a temporary officer in this council.
Deputy Leader Amanda Arnold incensed at Labour jibes spoke out. She said: “We have had comments from Labour about us being a “crap” council, officers disparagingly called “suits” and a denial that we are improving. It is as if Labour wants everything to fail.”